Families First Coronavirus Response Act: How will it Impact Your Company?

Thursday, March 19, 2020
We know there are a lot of questions out there regarding the bill that Congress passed yesterday. Below is a *very* abbreviated overview of the items that pertain to small businesses (under 500 employees). There is a LOT more covered in this bill; we will post additional information as it becomes available or as needed.  

The bill was signed by President Trump on the evening of March 18, and provisions will go into effect on April 2.


Emergency FMLA:

  • FMLA has been expanded to cover all employers with fewer than 500 employees, but employers with fewer than 50 employees are exempt if they feel providing leave would jeopardize the viability of their business. 
  • Anyone unable to work from home who has been employed for more than 30 days may take up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave to care for their child if their school or childcare is closed.
  • The first 10 days of Emergency FMLA are unpaid, but employees can use accrued vacation or sick time. 
  • After the first 10 days, employees must be paid at 2/3 their regular rate of pay for their normal number of weekly hours. This is limited to $200 per day and a total of $10,000.
  • These changes to FMLA are only in place until December 31, 2020.

Emergency Paid Sick Leave

  • This portion of the bill requires employers with less than 500 employees to provide full time employees with 80 hours of Paid Sick Leave at their full rate of pay (see exceptions below.)
  • The Emergency Paid Sick Leave payments are capped at $511 per day or $5,110 total if the employee is sick, and $200 per day or $2,000 total if they are caring for someone else. 
  • The leave does not carry over to 2021
  • If requested by the employee, employers MUST pay a full time employee for 80 hours of mandated emergency paid sick leave instead of the initial 10 days of unpaid leave that’s provided by the Emergency FMLA provisions above. 
  • There will be tax credits for Paid Sick and Paid FMLA for employers. Employers will be reimbursed if their costs for these two benefits exceed what they would owe. 
  • Who Can Use Emergency Paid Sick Leave?
    • An employee subject to a federal, state or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19; 
    • An employee who has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19 concerns; 
    • An employee experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking medical diagnosis; 
    • An employee caring for an individual subject to a federal, state or local quarantine or isolation order or advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19 concerns; (paid at 2/3 the employee’s regular rate of pay)
    • An employee caring for the employee’s child if the child’s school or place of care is closed or the child’s care provider is unavailable due to public health emergency;  (paid at 2/3 the employee’s regular rate of pay) or 
    • An employee experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor (paid at 2/3 the employee’s regular rate of pay) 

Other Info:

  • Medical plans must provide COVID-19 tests and “related services” to employees and their dependents without cost sharing
  • Employees who are unable to work from home may apply for unemployment due to reduced work hours
  • In many states, including CA and NY, the 7 day waiting period for unemployment benefits is being waived.

We are also gathering information on state-sponsored bills and legal updates. Remember as an employer, you are always responsible for complying with the most stringent law that applies to your company, whether that is federal or state mandated. 

We will continue to update you on critical employer issues as they arise or more information becomes available.